Tuesday, November 08, 2005

To be a Gamer

I mentioned in the “all about me part of this blog” that I am a gamer. To those who “game”, or to those who are “gamers”, they already know what I mean. However, there is a large portion of the population that does not recognize the term or recognize it in a negative light. What does it mean to be a “gamer”.

Well in a nutshell it means that I am a 35+ year-old married man and parent of 3 that plays video games. Not just plays them, but also has video games as a hobby.

There has been a lot of press over the last couple of years about the evils of video games. Video games are violent, video games are lulling the minds of our youth, and video games are police killer/psycho training simulators. If you believe the likes of Miami lawyer Jack Thompson, video games are the root of all evil in North America today. And at the root of that evil are the gamers.

Well you know what, I don’t buy it. In fact the same type of people who oppressed rock music in the 50’s or the literary works of Judy Bloom and JD Salinger are the ones fighting against today’s video games. I agree, there are some games that are exceptions. The Postal series, Grand Theft Auto and Vietnam all take violence over the edge. I have issues with these games, just like I have issues with extremely violent movies that show violence for no other reason than glorification of it.

But enough about that, I am going to be revisiting this topic a lot. The real reason of today’s post was to introduce Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade (PA) is a tri-weekly web comic that talks about gaming and other popular culture. This comic is not for everyone, the humour can often be juvenile and crass, and the site often has sexual innuendo and profanity. Not the type of site for every person out there. Me, I think they are quiet often very, very funny. At the bottom of the PA are the 2 founders and creators of the site, Gabe and Tycho. These guys are gamers; they also vocally defend the gaming pop-culture. Back a couple of years ago they were getting very tired of the negative press floating around about gamers and decided to do something about it. Living in Seattle they decided to raise some money and toys for the local Children’s Hospital. Items that the kids could use to help make the time spent in the hospital more enjoyable. Books, videos crayons, colouring books, and yes video games.

I remember back in 2003 when they started, a couple of posts about it on the website, the occasional plea to ask for a donation. I also remember when the first donations started to arrive from Amazon. What was expected to be several parcels turned out to be several truck loads. What was intended to be stored in a garage turned out to fill that garage floor to ceiling and top to bottom. Gabe and Tycho took photographs, and those pictures were amazing top me. I watched the progress day to day, and every day I was proud to be a part of this grass roots charity. Over all that first year, which was supposed to raise enough money for a couple of consoles and games raised over 250,000 in donations and toys.

Last year Gabe and Tycho expanded to 4 hospitals and tried again. Last year they anticipated a better response and acquired warehouse space for storage. Last year the ran out of space 3 times and had to move to a larger location for storage. Last year they raised close to1,000,000 dollars in toys and donations.

This year they are going worldwide. Children’s hospitals in Canada and Great Britain are now sponsored.

Do me a favour and check out the site, take 5 minutes to read the page and see what they are doing. http://www.childsplaycharity.org/


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